This morning Minority Whip Eric Cantor (the Mini-Me to Minority Leader Boehner’s Dr. Evil) was on Faux News spouting off about how American airport security is too lax. He is of course ignoring the fact that he and his party where in power when the TSA was created and the current rules were implemented, but, hey, any time you can bash on the President and those DFH’s in the Democratic Party why let a little thing like facts get in the way?
"Originally posted at Squarestate.net"
Rep. Cantor (Douche-Nozzle, VA) went on and on about how we should adopt the same type of security screening that the Israeli flag carrier El Al uses. As with most policy Republicans propose this looks moderately reasonable on the surface. El-Al has had only one hijacking in its history, which was before the current system went into effect. It has never had any successful bombings, though it has found bombs on several occasions.
Now that sounds like the kind of security we want right? Well, like most Republican ideas that sound good on the surface it falls apart on closer inspection. To start with El Al is miniscule compared to even the smallest of regional carriers in the United States. They fly 40 flights a day compared to the 87,000 daily flights in the U.S.
Still, they have really good security, right? That is true, they have great security, but here is what it takes. Every single passenger has to arrive at least 3 hours before an El Al flight. Before you get there, they have divided the passengers up by last name. If you have an Arab last name, you will be guaranteed to have an intensive screening, including a body search. The Dog thinks this is a big part of why Rep. Cantor is pushing El Al security measures; it is a way to get the racial profiling. that the Conservatives are so in love with, implemented.
There is more, though. Even if you do not have an Arab name you will questioned at length by at least three different screeners. If they do not like your answers, you will be treated to the "high risk" screening like those with Arab names.
Baggage is intensively screened, if it comes from another air-line it is checked through security again. All baggage is put through a low-pressure chamber to simulate being on a plane to keep bombs set for flight from getting on planes.
Then there is on plane security. On every flight, five of the aisle seats are take up by armed undercover air marshals. Most of the cabin crew and flight crew are ex-military (this is more to do with the fact that military service is compulsory in Israel, but bet your bottom dollar Republicans would like to paramilitarize the airline industry).
This may be what it takes for El Al to secure its fleet of 40 planes, but it is completely un unpractical for a nation that flies as much as we do. The U.S. air system is 2175 times the volume of flights of El Al. There is exactly zero chance of scaling up what works for a very small air line to a system that big.
But that is not Minority Whip Cantors concern. He is on Faux News to stoke the fears of their low information viewers and provide a simple solution to a complex problem, even though that never actually works in the real world. Rep. Cantor is not going to talk about the cost or the hassle or frankly the Constitutional issues behind a government agency like the TSA racially profiling Arab Americans. No, that is not his purpose at all.
Sadly all of this misses the real solution to our air line security needs, intelligence, human intelligence gathered and shared across agencies. This is where the billions and billions of dollars that an El Al type security plan would cost should be spent. Yes, we screwed up on with Northwest Flight 253, but that does not mean we should be looking to put draconian measures in place on the massive U.S. air system.
It is far better to prevent those who would bomb planes from ever getting to the airport, instead of trying to catch them at the very last chance, when they are about to board a plane. The group in England who were going to try to use liquid bombs to bring down airliners never got close to the airport. They were discovered and stopped, inside the boundaries of the law, by good old-fashioned intelligence and police work. This is where we need to put our focus, not sound bite policies of the Republicans.
The floor is yours.